Did you ever wonder how a caterpillar fits into its new suit after shedding the old? The caterpillar in the photo has just shed its skin, or molted, and you can see its discarded and shriveled skin.
After molting, the caterpillar rests quietly for a bit, sucking in great deal of air, which expands the new suit. After molting and resting, the caterpillar eats its old skin.
The caterpillar feeds and feeds, expanding and growing into its baggy suit until it again feels a sense of tightening and will molt again.
Caterpillars molt four to five times and each stage is called an instar, for example, 1st instar, 2nd instar, 3rd instar, etc.
I haven’t seen a female depositing eggs for a week or so. Perhaps this is our last batch of caterpillars and these will grow to become the Super Monarchs, the Monarchs that journey to Mexico.
Last of the teeny tinies?
Please consider making a tax deductible donation, or becoming an underwriter, to bring our Monarch Butterfly documentary Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly to American Public Television. To Learn More go here and to DONATE go here. Thank you!